Senate Takes Up Violence Against Women Act

The Senate is expected to approve the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act this week, according to news reports.

The landmark legislation, enacted in 1994 and extended in 2000 and 2005, provides women with a variety of protections against domestic violence. The act expired in 2011 when the House and Senate couldn’t reach an agreement over certain provisions, such as increasing visas for immigrants who are also victims of domestic violence.

Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina pushed lawmakers to reapprove the law in a recent conference call. The call also included Monika Johnson Hostler, executive director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Sgt. Darrell Price of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department’s Sexual Assault Cold Case Unit said the legislation has helped combat domestic violence and sexual assault in North Carolina.

The measure being considered this week provides new protections for victims who are in same-sex relationships and victims who live on American Indian reservations. Other provisions include:

  • The federal rape shield law, which prevents victims from additional trauma by limiting a defendant’s ability to cross-examine a victim about her sexual history.
  • Community violence prevention programs.
  • Protections to keep victims from being thrown out of their homes.
  • Funding for victim assistance services, such as rape crisis centers and hotlines.
  • Programs that assist immigrants and other minority and cultural groups.
  • Programs for disabled victims of domestic violence.
  • Measures addressing dating violence and stalking.
  • Domestic violence prevention strategies.

More information about the Violence Against Women Act and its history is available from the National Task Force to End Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Against Women, which provides a number of fact sheets to the public.


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